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150                 HISTORY OF PERSIA                CHAP.
who was a native of Khiva, as to the armies of Chengiz,
dismissed the three ambassadors with a friendly reply,
although he realized that the invitation to be regarded as
a " son " constituted a veiled demand to recognize Mongol
Not long afterwards Chengiz Khan bought the stock
of three Khivan merchants, with whom he sent back
Mongol representatives charged to obtain the various
products of Khiva in exchange for their pelts. On the
arrival of this rich caravan at the frontier town of Otrar,
the Governor, apparently in order to obtain possession of
their property, imprisoned the members of the party and
submitted a report to the monarch that they were spies,
as in all probability was the case. In reply he was
instructed to execute them, and duly carried out the
sentence. Chengiz had undoubtedly received the
despatches of the Caliph Nasir, whose intrigues are
mentioned in Chapter LIIL, and to judge by his action
was on the look-out for a pretext such as the^ impolitic
severity of Mohamed gave him. Hearing of the fate
which had befallen the trading venture, he sent an
embassy demanding the surrender of the governor of
Otrar to Mongol vengeance, war being the alternative.
Mohamed, blinded by his earlier uninterrupted successes,
made war certain by putting the ambassador to death. The
first battle was fought against a relatively small Mongol
force returning from the pursuit of the Merkites, who
had been allies of Guchluk. The Mongol general wished
to avoid an action, but the Khivan army attacked and in
the end was victorious, although their left wing had been
broken, and the day was saved only by a brilliant charge
headed by the impetuous Jalal-u-Din, the fighting son of
The Invasion of Transoxiana, A.H. 616 (1219).—The
awful torrent of destruction was actually set in motion
a year after war had been decided upon, and in A.H. 616
(1219) the Mongol hordes were directed on the Sir
Daria at Otrar. Mohamed had collected a great field
army of 400,000 men to fight a decisive battle, but was
defeated between Ush and Sangar with crushing losses hv